Lucy Lambriex/Getty Images
Lucy Lambriex/Getty Images
  • Nearly everyone shares one insecurity: they're scared of not being good enough.
  • To hide this fear, people may be perfectionists, or work excessively. Or, conversely, they may self-sabotage or punish themselves.
  • To overcome this, you need to be open to proving yourself wrong - and try keeping a list of reasons that you're good enough.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Being a therapist is sort of a surreal experience. I get paid to listen to people tell me their deepest, darkest secrets.

The clients who step into my office often reveal things they've never said out loud before - not even to their parents, best friends, or spouses. Sometimes, they've never even admitted their feelings to themselves.

Maybe they're willing to share their insecurities because they know I'm a professional. Or maybe it's because they know I'll keep their information confidential. Possibly, they're just ready to finally get some relief.

But no matter the reason they choose to share their problems, it's evident that almost everyone shares one same insecurity - the fear of not being good enough.

How it manifests itself

The funny thing about this insecurity is that we rarely recognise it in anyone but ourselves. We tend to look around and think everyone else feels confident and has everything all figured out. This is because hardly anyone discusses their own insecurities.

Instead of sharing our fear of not being good enough, we often put all our energy and effort into trying to look better than we feel. This is not easy to observe in other people, however, because everyone masks their insecurities in a unique way.

Here are some things people do to hide their deep-rooted fears of not being good enough:

  • Perfectionism. Perfectionists try to prove that they're infallible. They secretly hope that if they don't mess up, then somehow they'll finally feel validated - or that they'll earn affirmations from others that help them feel worthy. But no matter how hard they work to keep up the appearance of being perfect, they never feel good enough.
  • Excessive hard work and overachievement. Some individuals think if they can just hustle hard enough, they will show everyone that they're worthwhile. Putting in long hours, trying to outdo everyone else, and insisting on crushing every goal in every area of life might be a sign that someone is trying to prove to the world that they are good enough.
  • Self-sabotage. Individuals who don't feel good about themselves experience a great deal of tension when things are going well. To relieve this tension, they may mess things up (e.g., subconsciously blowing their diet or going on a spending spree). In a strange way, screwing things up makes them feel better because their external behaviour finally matches how they feel on the inside.
  • Self-punishment. Self-punishment sometimes disguises itself as self-discipline - like when someone refuses to do anything fun because they don't feel worthy of joy.
  • Underachievement. People who believe they aren't good enough to succeed don't bother trying to achieve much. They avoid challenging themselves because they assume they're destined to fail.
  • People-pleasing. Individuals who feel bad about themselves often need others to give them a stamp of approval. But no matter how much praise they get, they never quite feel good enough. And saying yes to everyone else comes at the expense of their own opinions, goals, and values.

How to overcome it:

The first step for anyone who wants to overcome the fear of not being good enough is recognising that it's a problem. You have to acknowledge that just because you think you're not good enough doesn't make it true.

But the problem is that once you believe you're not good enough, you'll keep looking for evidence that reinforces your belief. You'll assume every mistake, rejection, and failure is proof that you don't measure up.

And you'll overlook or excuse any evidence to the contrary. You might even chalk up achievement to "good luck," or you might assume that any success you have stems from other people.

So you have to be open to proving yourself wrong. Be on the lookout for evidence that you are good enough. Perhaps you have good people in your life who love you. Or maybe you make a difference at your job. Keep a running list of all the reasons you are good enough, and read it over whenever you doubt yourself.

The next steps in overcoming the fear of not being good enough are person-specific. Some individuals need to heal old childhood wounds that left them feeling as "less than." Others need to change their behaviour - and start acting like a confident, worthy person - which can help them see that they are, in fact, good enough.

Often these steps can best be achieved with the support of a mental health professional. So if you're struggling to feel worthy, reach out to a therapist. A few therapy sessions might be enough to help you build the self-worth you need to finally feel good enough.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: